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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2011/07/08

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

Further details on the impending antievolution bills in New Hampshire.
A review of recent events in the creationism/evolution controversy in
Church & State. And a bumper sticker contest sponsored by NCSE.


A columnist for the Nashua Telegraph (July 3, 2011) discusses the two
antievolution bills on the horizon in New Hampshire. As NCSE
previously reported, two requests to have antievolution bills drafted
for the 2012 legislative session were included on a list of
legislative service requests dated June 14, 2011. David Brooks, who
writes the "Granite Geek" column for the Telegraph, interviewed both
of the legislators who submitted the requests.

Jerry Bergevin (R-District 17) asked for a bill "requiring the
teaching of evolution in public schools as a theory" -- which, as
Brooks notes, seems to imply that evolutionary theory is "nothing more
than a complex guess." Responding to Brooks's query, Bergevin
explained, "My LSR is not anti-evolution, I am anti-indoctrination,"
and added, "This LSR would include a study of the proponents' ideology
and position on atheism.” Brooks commented, "I'm not sure what he
means by evolution’s 'proponents,' since that constitutes most of the
world’s scientific community."

Gary Hopper (R-District 7), who asked for a bill "requiring
instruction in intelligent design in the public schools," explained,
"Darwin's theory is basically antiquated," and also complained that
evolutionary theory is at bottom "a theory that we are here by
accident, that there is no purpose. The conclusion is that we're a
bunch of accidents … you really have no purpose for existence. ...
Teaching a child that it's very possible that they were designed would
infer [sic] that they actually have a purpose. There's some purpose
they were created, so that is a reason to live."

Brooks, for his part, disagreed with the legislators' view that
accepting evolution is tantamount to nihilism, writing that on the
contrary, "[c]reationism is meaningless, but evolution is a door to
infinite wonder." "But," he concluded, "this is irrelevant here,
because it has no bearing on what to teach in science class. My
taxpayer dollars pay science teachers to teach science, not
philosophy. Let's hope lawmakers don't try to get in the way."

For the column in the Nashua Telegraph, visit: 

And for NCSE's previous coverage of events in New Hampshire, visit: 


Rob Boston's "Creationism Crusade," published in the July/August 2011
issue of Church & State, reviews the latest battles, in state
legislatures and elsewhere, over the teaching of evolution. The
antievolution bills in Tennessee -- House Bill 368, which passed the
Tennessee House of Representatives in April 2011, and its counterpart
Senate Bill 893, which is on hold in the Senate until the legislature
reconvenes in 2012 -- were described as "showing an increasing
sophistication on the part of activists who are determined to revise
biology instruction to conform to religious dogma."

Also discussed was the attempt to repeal Louisiana's antievolution
law. Zach Kopplin, the Baton Rouge high school student who spearheaded
the repeal effort, told Church & State, "I've always wanted to take
this law on, since it was passed three years ago ... When it first
passed, friends and family from around the country read about it in
The New York Times, and it was really embarrassing. This law doesn't
just affect my reputation with friends and family though. Louisiana
has an anti-science reputation that will make it harder for Louisiana
students to get the cutting-edge jobs in science that they want.”

Boston also cited Michael B. Berkman and Eric Plutzer's National
Survey of High School Biology Teachers, which found that only 28%
taught evolution forthrightly, while a whopping 60% were "cautious"
about teaching evolution, often due to pressure from their
communities. NCSE's deputy director Glenn Branch commented, "Teachers
need to know that they have support for teaching evolution
forthrightly ... in a scientifically accurate and pedagogically
appropriate way, without any compromises to mollify the objections of
those who reject evolution on religious grounds."

After noting that not all people of faith are opposed to evolution
(and citing NCSE's Voices for Evolution, which includes a number of
denominational statements on evolution), Boston concluded by quoting
Barry W. Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for
Separation for Church and State (which publishes Church & State),
himself an ordained minister. "The Religious Right aims to replace
science instruction in public classrooms with fundamentalist Sunday
School lessons," Lynn commented. "Religious liberty and good science
education are at stake. That's why we must speak out.”

For "Creationism Crusade" in Church & State, visit: 

For NCSE's previous coverage in Tennessee and Louisiana, visit: 

For NCSE's previous coverage of Berkman and Plutzer's survey, visit: 

And for NCSE's Voices for Evolution, visit: 


It's time to sharpen your pencils, cudgel your brains, and consult
your muse: NCSE is running a bumper sticker contest! This is your
chance to speak loud, speak proud for evolution, by crafting a killer
slogan that could end up on the tail end of thousands of cars. The aim
of this mobile message: to spread the good word about evolution and
evolution education. Your bumper sticker can be funny, profound,
fierce -- whatever, as long as it's good. Full details of the contest,
and a list of the fabulous prizes on offer, are available on NCSE's
website. The contest ends on September 5, 2011.

For details of the contest, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x305
fax: 510-601-7204

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